by Bro Koay Chiang Loong
Brethren, I attended a medical mission campaign in Cambodia on 9-20th January 2013. The Church of Christ in Klang contributed USD1000 towards the work in Cambodia. The work is overseen by the Walnut Hill Church of Christ and financially supported by Midlands Church of Christ in USA.
This is the 5th mission trip, the first one being in 2009. I have attended four of them. Dr John Bailey, son of the late Bro J.C Bailey (many of us know him from his publications and his longstanding service as a missionary to India) is a dentist and works with the team. John is also a member of the Saturn Road Church of Christ where brother Frank Pierce is also a member. He has a non-government organization that receives supports from ordinary Americans.
The money raised has been spent over the years for medical missions all over the less fortunate parts of the world. He provided money for the dental local anesthetic and dental equipment and offered his services as a dentist. We also worked with a group of Christians from the Philippines who were dentists and optometrists. The Christians in the Philippines have a mission organization called MARCH for Christ – Because Jesus Cares.
Over 10 days, we traveled on a chartered bus. Strict schedule. Most days 5am wake up calls. 6am on board bus to drive into the interior of the provinces to start our work. A team of about seven Khmer doctors and five pharmacists accompanied us on the trip. Some are members of the church in Cambodia, and a number of them are Buddhist health professionals who would work with any NGO who would pay them a nominal sum (and pay for their accommodation and meals of course). They would consult the patients.
We see this as a great opportunity to serve together towards the cause of Christ. We have strengthened our relationship with them over the years, and every year we invite them to attend daily devotion and Sunday worship. They are encouraged to ask questions about the Bible and some of them took the opportunity to ask.
In all, over 16,000 patients received very basic medical assistance and treatment, dental extraction and/or received secondhand eye glasses, of which 5,000 pairs were shipped over by the Lions Club in the US. I was assigned the task of fitting the right pair for patients after they were screened by our lovely optometrists. Some people whom we dispensed eye glasses to were way into their 50s and for the first time can see clearly. I recalled one particular lady who was so elated she leaped with such joy and thanked the team repeatedly. One of the students told her in Khmer, “Don’t thank us, thank the LORD Jesus Christ.” An interesting exercise as there was only a handful of translators on the trip.
Brother Sokhom Hun is the point man in Cambodia. He was a former refugee who fled Cambodia when the country was oppressed by the Khmer Rouge. He was taught the Bible by brother Pat Brookes and eventually he served as an elder for the Cambodian COC in East Dallas for 18 years. He decided to return to Cambodia full time to bring the gospel to his own people. Brother Mike Mierhorfer and brother Mark are two friends who attended preaching school together previously and are both committed to coming every year for the foreseeable future to teach and preach at our annual campaign.
Sokhom also runs a bible school called Cambodia Bible Institute at the premises of the Kampuchea Church of Christ. This school has about 18 students at present, all of them young men aged 20 to 30. Upon graduation they will return to their villages to become local preachers. Mike and Mark also go during the course of the year to teach at the school and local church leaders are brought from the provinces to Phomn Penh for leadership training. Once a year, usually in the first week of January, there will be a big medical mission campaign.
5 years ago, we went to a province called Svey Reang towards the end of the mission trip. Now, we go there as a matter of priority as there are over 300 Christians who worship in small groups spread over the province. We schedule our mission trip in such a way that enable us to worship with them on Sunday. Some of the money raised is used to pay for transport to bring them from all over the province to worship at the school we use for our medical mission work. Imagine 300 people worshipping under several trees next to the statue of Buddha!
This year we chose four provinces for our outreach. Three other provinces were Prey Veng, Kampong Spue and Kampong Chinang. Kampong Chinang has a large population of the Muslim faith. When the medical clinics are being conducted, the two preachers would teach the gospel to about 50-100 people, some of whom have never heard of Jesus. The story of Jesus always sends chills down our spines every time Mike Mierhorfer expounds from the bible. He is a very gifted preacher. This year a total of 28 men and women decided to give their lives to our Lord and Savior in baptism.
Let me encourage more of us to take part in mission work. There are primarily two reasons for doing this. Firstly, in Matt 25:31ff, Jesus’ teaching about judgement. We want to be found as true disciples of Jesus, lending a helping hand to the least of our fellow human beings. We want to be prepared for judgement. The bible teaches it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35.) The word blessed conveys the notion of great joy. Let us do what the Lord has asked us to do and we will reap the joy he promised.
Secondly, in Matt 15:29 “Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. 30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them. 31 The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel.”
Jesus went on to take care of the hungry crowd where he fed 4,000 with seven loafs of bread and a fish. We want to be seen to authenticate our religion just like our Lord and Savior did during his ministry. We were given the honour to serve the needs of the people in Cambodia physically and spiritually. We only hope we can emulate the servant heart of Jesus. He is our benchmark.
I thank God for this opportunity to serve with some remarkable brethren who have dedicated their lives to His cause. I hope more of us would volunteer for this work. Although it is not possible for me to invite anybody else to come with me to Cambodia as our 40 seater bus will be packed up to 50 or more, brother Richard Lee is going to organize similar missions to Myanmar towards the end of this year. Allow me to encourage each and everyone of us to partner with him and support him by volunteering your manpower, pledge financial support and pray for success that everything will fall into place.
Please pray for the ongoing work in Cambodia and that our brethren will grow from strength to strength in their service to the Lord. One of the students at the bible institute is a Muslim convert, disowned by his family and only in recent months had begun to slowly mend his relationship with his family. Pray that God will also show grace and mercy towards his family.
We need to remember that at the end of it all we will just be doing our duty. Lk 17:10. To God be the glory.